Sunday, February 15, 2015

Homeschool Edition: Skills Training Time

One of my all-time favorite homeschooling books is Terri Maxwell's "Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit." I highly recommend this excellent book!

As you all know, one of my major goals for this year is working on crafting a more peaceful home atmosphere. In reviewing this book toward that purpose, I was especially drawn to some of Terry's words particularly addressed to the problem of mothers who deal with unnecessary anger because they have not properly trained their children to responsible habits.

She says:
"Have you ever considered how much of your day is spent on the defensive when dealing with almost insignificant discipline issues such as: flush the toilet, don't slam the door, chew with your mouth closed, hang up your coat? Often these little situations are the ones that build up to the point where anger bursts from continual frustration.
"What about being on the offensive? ... Do you want your children to put their shoes and socks away when they take them off? Then you will need to have a time set aside in your day when you are training them to do this task...
"Work on a handful of tasks and attitudes during training time until you are comfortable that the children are beginning to implement them during the day on their own... The possibilities for proactive teaching and training are endless." (pp. 81-82)

Okay, then!

And thus, after a few weeks of procrastination, we began "Skills Training Time" - so named in order to give a more "military" feel to the whole thing, which delights the 8yo.

We do our Skills Training Time each school day morning right after breakfast. Each short session (usually between five and ten minutes) covers a specific skill - either a character skill (obedience, sibling relations), a responsibility issue, or a basic skill.

We are not following any set curriculum (and indeed, I don't know of any in existence). I simply go by whatever skill pops into my mind that is needed in our home or that would be useful to our children. Over time, I expect that this will greatly expand to cover many, many topics. Right now, though, we're just at the beginning!

Here are some of the topics we have taught (or discussed) during Skills Training Time:

  • How to peel and cut up a carrot
  • How to use Barkeeper's Friend (a scrubbing powder) on the sink
  • The Obedience Game
  • How to deal with a younger sibling taking a toy away
  • How to hang up your coat when coming inside
  • How to put your shoes neatly by the door when coming inside
  • Hand-washing
  • Hanging up bath towels
  • How to introduce oneself to an adult

I will report in later to let you all know how this goes over the long-term. For now, I think it's a keeper!

(I should note that we have separate times in our school day for covering manners and safety skills, so those topics aren't generally included in Skills Training.)

Homeschoolers, do you have anything similar in your daily schedule? What skills or attitudes have you worked on in your homeschool?


  1. Teri Maxwell came to our area recently and I was going to get to hear her speak on Homeschooling With a Meek and Quiet Spirit. I was so looking forward to it, but when the day came I was so tired and so hugely pregnant that I couldn't make myself leave the house that night. How I regret missing her talk!!!

    We do skills training at our house, too.

    1. We were privileged to hear a Maxwell conference two years ago, and it was lovely! Unfortunately they said that they don't plan to come out our way again (perhaps a poor turnout?) but I hope that they'll be in your neck of the woods again soon. I love their books. And I'm glad to hear that you guys do skills training too!! :)


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